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President Bush Signs Bill To Improve U.S. Trauma Systems

Armen Hareyan's picture

U.S. Trauma Systems

American College of Surgeons endorses legislation to expand effective trauma care to all areas of the United States.

President George W. Bush signed into law the Trauma Care Systems Planning and Development Act of 2007 (H.R. 727) reauthorizing funding for the United States trauma systems until the year 2012. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) strongly supports the legislation (now Public Law 110-23), which will increase the availability of trauma care across the country and ensure all areas are equipped with appropriate emergency medical services, thus improving the survival rate for severely injured patients.

Studies have shown that as many as 25 percent of trauma patient deaths could have been prevented if optimal acute care had been available. Yet, only one-fourth of the U.S. population lives in an area served by a trauma care system.

"The nation just took an important step forward in disaster preparedness," Thomas R. Russell, MD, FACS, and executive director, American College of Surgeons, said. "Trauma centers save thousands of lives every year by providing individuals suffering from traumatic injuries with the care they need within the crucial first 'golden hour.'"

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In addition to potentially saving lives, the legislation will create uniform triage protocols and standardize trauma center designations for severely injured patients, reduce the staggering financial impact of trauma to society, and enhance the nation's focus on improved disaster preparedness.

The Trauma Care Systems Act reauthorizes funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Trauma-EMS Program through FY 2012 to all 50 states and five territories. Authorization is $12 million for FY 2008, $10 million for FY 2009 and $8 million for FYs 2010-2012. This action follows two years (2006-2007) of no funding for the program. The act also creates a new competitive grant program for states that have already begun the process of establishing a trauma care system using national standards and protocols.

"Even with this critical influx of money, the U.S. trauma system remains incomplete," Dr. Russell added. "The most consistent issue among the states is the lack of uniformity regarding system development."

The state of the country's emergency and trauma system was addressed last year in an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report which called for a complete overhaul of the U.S. emergency and trauma care by creating a coordinated and regionalized system of care modeled after the HRSA Trauma-EMS program. ACS also endorsed the IOM report.

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for individuals age one to 44, and data from the National Safety Council estimates that in 2004 alone, unintentional injuries cost the nation $574.8 billion, with $298.4 billion in wage and productivity losses and $98.9 billion in medical expenses.

H.R. 727 was introduced by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) and Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX), and Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS).

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 71,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.